We have dipped in and out of The National Wedding Show since 2008 as it really it a monumental task to exhibit! As a bridal store we temporarily move home with approximately 100 wedding dresses, dress rails, hangers, gown bags, mirrors along with boxes and boxes of extra little bits that are needed to run our pop up shop for 3 days! The planning for each show begins months in advance with stand plans, show guide information and of course health and safety forms!!! As all of our staff and half of our shop relocate to the NEC, our store in Kidderminster closes for the duration of the show, which is no mean feat considering how busy and hectic our diary is! So why do we do it? The answer is quite simple – we love it! The atmosphere of the show is incredible with so many excited and happy brides to be with their families and friends all planning their special day. It is also nice for us as we get to meet lovely brides from outside of our usual geographical catchment area, with ladies travelling back to us for their fittings from as far as York and Cornwall!
Here is our story:
Wednesday is let’s get organised day! Those of you who know us know we love our lists! Lists make us happy and of course we have a “master list” for the NEC that simply goes from one show to the next. It is added to after every show as we realise we should have brought another piece of our rather random day-to-day shop kit that helps us look after our brides! As the store is still open, we pack up as much as we can behind the scenes and then just after closing, all of the dresses are bagged up ready for transportation the next day!
Thursday is set up day! When we arrive at midday the stands are bare with just the outer shell wall built. Our muscles are put to the test as we have to carry (yes carry!) everything we need from the outside set up area behind the halls to our home for the next 3 days! In keeping with our tradition, the first thing we do before we do anything else is…….have a cup of tea! Once we have regained our strength (tea is medicinal to us) after our dress weight lifting, we begin the set up process and it is hard to not be distracted as the rest of the show magically appears around us. Suddenly the lights and music come on, the carpet is laid, the other stands are set up and it all comes together to become the glamorous show we know and love!
Friday is the beginning! The change of pace from our daily shop life is quite a shock to the system as the average bridal try on in store is approximately an hour to an hour and a half, whilst at the show it can be a short as 10 minutes before they are saying “yes to the dress!” Friday is the quietest day of the show, and it gives us all a chance to settle into the new routine and restricted space compared to our shop which is just under 2000sq foot! Our entire stand and viewing area would fit into one-quarter of our usual work space! Just before the show opens at 10am, we are all checking to make sure everything is ready for our first bride to be and then we hear the announcement “The National Wedding Show is now open!”
Saturday is a day of madness! This is the busiest day of the show and within minutes of the show opening the aisles and stands are full of excited brides looking for wedding inspiration. We always make sure we have a large breakfast before the show as often the first chance we have to eat our dinner is often as the show closes! We have learnt from experience to have little snackettes and bottles of water on the stand and Nicky now insists on bringing Cadbury’s Mini Eggs to every show!
Sunday is certainly not a day of rest! Although Sunday is the last day it is still really busy! We are by now absolutely in the swing of it and as much as we are looking forward to returning to our huge shop with our beloved SPACE, we start to reminisce fondly at the memories we have of the show! There is a collective “phew” from the exhibitors as the show closes for the final time, and as the brides leave the halls the dismantling begins as we all begin to pack away everything and say “goodbye” to our mini “the wedding rooms!”
One of the nicest things about The National Wedding Show is the comeradery among the brides both in the changing area and outside on the stand. It is really lovely to hear complete strangers telling each other how fabulous they look in their dress and listen to them share their wedding stories with each other and sharing helpful hints and tips for their planning!